Have you ever found yourself stuck on a public terminal accessing the internet on a browser that isn’t customized to your exact specifications? It can be frustrating. And it’s not just a matter of laziness; the amount of time spent on a web browser for the average college going, Facebooking, tweeting and Googling person is pretty large, so large that the experience actually begins to mold the physical structures inside our cranium. Climbing onto another person’s browser is like slipping into their easy-chair; the familiar depression in the cushion is gone…replaced by a similar but clearly different and discomforting one.

Beyond this, the browser is often connected to something even more important; a search engine. Search engines are the same in many very obvious ways, but underneath there are crucial structural differences that are hugely important to our relationship not only with the brands themselves, but the rest of the web at large. It’s no accident, and pretty revealing, that “sex” and “Google” were once shared the spot of most popular yahoo search terms.

Like a basic biological urge, we crave the language of interconnected ideas that we best understand. General familiarity,  of course, is one thing but that doesn’t scrape the surface of our attachment. When I visit the search engines Yahoo and Bing I am, of course, immediately thrown off by the different buttons and colors, but I will usually attempt to find what I am looking for there first because it means saving me several mouse clicks. Alas, my search usually ends with me angrily (yes angrily) hammering Google into the search bar and derisively clicking on the link that transports me safely to the land of the almighty ‘G’. The latent machinations of Yahoo and Bing may well work well for some (the IT people who have a similar affections with Internet explorer and Firefox 3.6 for starters) but it doesn’t fly for me. I’m not trained, and I can’t, navigate their craft through cyberspace.

If you need an example of how this happens, observe your use of Google instant over the past five of so years. Before Google instant you may have relied on Google’s “did you mean…?” search suggestions to correct misspellings or close-but-not-perfect keyword entries. Now that Google can basically do the same thing ::instantly:: as you type you are more likely to use this feature more and more. Because Google Instant can also suggest numerous related and compound keywords ::instantly:: you may also start to rely upon it as a searching strategy. Now look back at your Googling habits over the history of instant and you can see how your mind has adapted to the changing language of Google; a language that is not natural and not of our own creation, but that has become essential to our consumption of knowledge.

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